Drugs deaths in Scottish Borders double
The number of drug-related deaths in the Scottish Borders has more than doubled in the past year.
There were 21 in 2018 compared with 10 in the previous 12 months.
NHS Borders said the trend for drug-related deaths in the region was increasing and reflected the national situation.
It said every case was a "tragedy" and the reasons for drug use were "complex" and included both personal and social circumstances.
The health board said it had taken a number of steps in response to the increase including meeting with a wide range of agencies.
It has also reviewed the circumstances of each death as well as commissioning an outreach service to work with people who find it difficult to engage and remain in drug services.
It added that in the last three months everyone referred to alcohol and drug services had started treatment within three weeks.
'Mountain to climb'
The figures were reported by director of public health Dr Tim Patterson at a meeting of Scottish Borders Council.
In response to the figures, Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall said: "I think many people will be alarmed at how drug-related deaths in our region have more than doubled in a year and I think the amount of drug paraphernalia found on our streets is also on the increase.
"It is quite clear that the Scottish Borders has a huge mountain to climb in order to address this situation and in turn reduce these extremely worrying statistics."
He said everyone needed to work together to bring the figures down.
"It is vitally important that people suffering from drug addiction are given the highest quality of treatment possible," he said.
Dr Patterson also told the council chamber that naloxone, a medication which can temporarily reverse the effects of an opiate overdose, was used to save lives 39 times last year.
- Reporting by local democracy reporter Joseph Anderson.